image credit: Kyoto News via AP
- Japan will use robots during the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics to help workers and enhance the experience for attendees.
- Toyota will provide Human and Delivery Support Robots to perform a wide variety of tasks.
- Panasonic will outfit some workers with exoskeletons called Power Assist Suits at connected facilities like airports and warehouses.
Toyota Robots to Aid Guests and Workers
The 2020 Olympics and Paralympics are taking place in Tokyo, Japan. While it will feature the world’s greatest athletes, it will also be a showcase of the latest technology.
The games will be using two robots from Toyota to make things a bit more convenient for guests and workers. The Human Support Robot (HSR) will be helping direct people to their seats, carry food and drinks, and providing general information. The HSR features a robotic arm that can pick up and grip a wide variety of objects. Sensors on the robots will help the HSR navigate the venue and avoid any obstacles that may get in its way.
Toyota Delivery Support Robot
As far as the Delivery Support Robot (DSR) goes, it’s job will be to zip around making deliveries. The DSR looks like a cross between R2D2 and a garbage can. 16 Human Support Robots and 5 Delivery Support Robots will be available at the National Stadium. Officials feel these robots will improve the experience of attendees especially those who are disabled and have limited mobility.
“TOYOTA hopes to provide ‘the freedom to move for everyone’ throughout the Games and has developed various mobility solutions, including robots. We believe that the robots will help spectators in wheelchairs to enjoy watching the events without any restrictions, to soak up the atmosphere inside stadiums and to feel the excitement of the sport.” said Nobuhiko Koga, Chief Officer of Frontier Research Center, Toyota.
Panasonic Power Assist Suit Exoskeleton
Panasonic is focusing their tech on making workers at the games “superhuman”. The company is providing exoskeletons called Power Assist Suits to places supporting the games like airports and warehouses. The harness like exoskeleton will help workers lift more weight while putting less stress on their bodies. Sensors send signals to motors which aid a users movement and reduce the power required to lift an object. According to Panasonic, the suit improves efficiency by about 20 percent.
“We would like to have a society where people can work without caring about gender differences or age differences,” said Yoshifumi Uchida, general manager of Panasonic’s Paralympic department. “When you are carrying a suitcase or a heavy box, this is where the power assist suit becomes valuable.”
Games to Help Showcase New Tech
Tokyo 2020 Olympic officials plan to announce the incorporation other robots and tech at the games. They hope that while the innovations will help the games run smoother, it will also provide a springboard for the showcased technology to eventually become a part of everyday lives.
“We are kicking off this robot project with the help of many people in order to help realize a truly innovative Games, as stated in Tokyo 2020’s vision. I would like as many people as possible to experience these technologies, which are one of Japan’s strengths, and I believe that through these we will be able to showcase a new style of the Games,” said Tokyo 2020 Vice Director General Masaaki Komiya.